How to Actually Get Things Done With a Baby Around

When you think of motherhood today versus 60-70 years ago, some very different imagery come to mind…

The stereotypical mom in the 50s always had a clean house, something baking in the oven from scratch, and a happy baby playing independently while mom fixed her lipstick standing in kitten heels.

The social media portrayal of a mom today has a house that looks like drawers vomited out their contents, a sink that is more full of dirty dishes than primetime at a restaurant, a crying baby demanding to be held while mom (who hasn’t showered in a week) wonders if the stain on her shirt is chocolate or poop.

Slightly exaggerated both ways, but you get the idea. Whether you’re on maternity leave, back to work, working from home, or raising humans all day long, each stage brings new challenges of getting stuff done. Reserach has found that as much as our partners/spouses help, moms take on so much more to do.

Maybe pre-baby, you were Marie Kondo’s long-lost twin in your spotless, tidy home. Perhaps you lived more like Kondo’s evil twin before baby. Either way, it’s hard to figure out how to get stuff done with this new beautiful, demanding, tiny person. 

Here are some tips on how to actually get things done with a baby:

  • Keep cooking simple– You can definitely keep home-cooked meals in your routine as long as you make life a little easier for yourself. It’s worth a few extra pennies to get some prepared foods like shredded carrots, pre-cut fruit salad, frozen veggies, or any other easy-to-assemble meals.  Save yourself the time and struggle of trying to peel or chop with a baby nearby. Having these fresh ingredients ready to throw together into a complete meal will keep you sane while eating well!
  • Baby carriers are your new best friend-My son hated the vacuum when he was tiny. But not vacuuming often wasn’t an option in a house with two cats, a dog, and a new baby. While the noise was terrifying, he was comforted while I held him. Enter the baby carrier to save the day. It still wasn’t his favorite activity, but at least I could quickly clean up while he was comforted close against my chest.

(Want another great tip for a baby carrier? Shopping. Trying to balance them on top of the cart, bringing the 9,000 accessories needed in a diaper bag, holding a list, and trying to get everything you need before they poop again feels impossible. Leave the car seat and just bring the baby in the carrier. You’ll have hands free to place items in the cart, they will love being snuggled up with you, and you’ll be finished shopping much more quickly before that next poop happens.)

  • Be productive when they sleep– I know, I know, you’re also being told to rest when they sleep. If you’re tired, rest. Most important is to take care of yourself before you can take care of anything else. Some days, you will feel this rush of energy (or at least the coffee will make you feel that way). Take advantage of those days! For me, I kept a list of anything I wished would get done but wasn’t on fire to be done immediately. Maybe it’s rotating the following size of clothing in and taking old sizes out. Maybe it’s reorganizing where all of the bottle accessories are kept. Maybe it’s finding your left shoe. Whatever it is, keep a list. When it’s a day that you’re exhausted, just write down what you wish you were doing. When it’s a day that you feel energized, complete one task when they sleep. Keep those goals small; just getting one thing done will be rewarding. Your left shoe will be happy too!
  • Accept help– You may be someone who can do everything and still are even when you accept help. There are some things only you can do as a mom, and those are the most important things right now. For everything else, you probably could receive help. With services from house cleaning to grocery delivery to yard pooper-scoopers, there is help for pretty much any task. Delegate, get it done, and spend more time where it’s most important. 
  • If the budget is tight, see if there is someone you can trade for help.  I was more than happy to keep another baby for a few hours, trading another mom for ironing. She loved ironing while watching a movie alone for a few hours; I loved having a playdate for my son. We both were grateful and happy at the end of the day!

Remember, you’re doing the most important work day in and day out, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. Keeping yourself healthy and caring for your baby are the most important things right now. Everything else is icing.

Some days will feel more productive than others, and that’s ok too! I promise you are the only person judging what your house looks like. When you get that itch to get more done, try some of these tips to see what helps you.

And if you want to do it all in lipstick and kitten heels, meeeeooooow, mama!

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